Movement Relationships, Coalitions, and Partners

CLDC exists to provide legal support for progressive movements that are doing cutting edge – even controversial – work challenging corporate/State power and authoritarianism. Unlike regular law firms, or even other public interest legal organizations, we only provide mission-aligned legal support for movements that share our own values. These relationships are very important to us, and we carefully select partners and clients to ensure that we are putting our energy where it is most needed and most effective.

One of our longest-standing organizational partners is the National Lawyers Guild. CLDC senior staff attorneys Lauren Regan and Marianne Dugan co-facilitate the Cascadia Chapter of the NLG, which supports legal observers in Eugene-Springfield, Corvallis, and southern Oregon. This year, as mobilizations for Black lives were met with yet another overwhelming wave of police brutality, requests for legal observers skyrocketed. CLDC and Cascadia NLG deployed legal observers to more than 20 local actions, provided support for other local chapters, and our executive director, who also serves on the National Mass Defense Steering Committee, trained more than 550 new legal observers throughout the country.

The Protect the Protest (PtP) coalition is another core partner. Comprised of more than 60 nonprofits across the country, and with a motto of “An attack on one is an attack on all,” PtP seeks to preserve our First Amendment right to protest by taking on corporate bullies who use strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) to silence their critics. Lauren directs the PtP Legal Working Group, and in June of 2020, CLDC brought on attorney Rebecca Chapman, in part to devote more time to putting an end to this abuse of the court system. The coalition also provides important media and campaign support for the SLAPP litigation CLDC is currently leading, and for the activists and organizations targeted by SLAPP bullies.

Protect Dissent is a national watchdog coalition with a mission to stop legislative and regulatory assaults on our civil rights. 2020 saw many state legislatures advance dozens of bills to criminalize dissent with harsh sentences and other penalties — especially for protests — challenging the fossil fuel industry and violence against the Palestinian people. And even as some states moved to pass moderate police “reform” bills to address the seemingly never-ending racial violence of the police state, others doubled down on racist criminal punishment systems. Marianne Dugan, Senior Staff Attorney, leads CLDC’s engagement with this group.

Additional core CLDC partners with whom we worked closely in 2020 — and whose work we value deeply — are Promise to Protect, the Water Protector Legal Collective, Law for Black Lives, Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC,) and our own member organizations: 22 groups — both large and small — that increase our capacity and provide reciprocal support for the shared objective of strengthening and emboldening progressive social change movements.